We left Manang this morning and began heading toward the pass.
The weather was sunny except for the banner clouds formed by the jet stream blowing across the highest summits at maybe 200 kilometers per hour. We felt fortunate that the storm had cleared just as we were beginning the most spectacular and difficult part of the trip. Earlier groups had crossed the pass in clouds or worse.
Today’s climb was a reasonable 400 meters, prolonged only by my constant stops to take pictures of Annapurna II, III, IV, Ganggapurna, the Great Barrier, and Tilicho Peak, which were all laid out in increasing grandeur as we climbed. The trail left the Manang Valley and headed north towards Thorong La pass, which we will cross in two or three days. By the end of the day we could see the pass and the two large mountains on either side.
Just before our stopping place, we saw the first yaks of this trek. They were no surprise to us but a big thrill for the first-time travelers. One woman told us she had been waiting all her life to see a yak.
We read books for the rest of the afternoon and listened to the talk of others in our hotel. One rather tiresome Canadian was telling everyone about how he had flown into Manang and was hoping to do the pass in another two days, his dream since an earlier trip when he had needed to turn back because of altitude sickness. Judging from his labored breathing and overly aggressive schedule, he was well on the way to the hospital again, and he was committing the big mistake of traveling alone. I hope he makes it to the top, but if he doesn’t, he will have endangered not just himself but also the other people who will need to help him get down.